The North Carolina Court of Appeals sent back to a lower court on Tuesday a case over who decides how death row prisoners are executed. The court says the case has changed too much for it to make an
opinion. It started out with four death-row inmates who said the state’s method of execution was cruel and unusual. Then the state changed its procedures and now the inmates say the state didn’t go through a required public review to make the changes. On the other hand, the attorney general’s office asked the appeals court to say the state Secretary of Public Safety could decide how to carry out executions without getting an outside opinion. In its ruling, the appeals court has ordered the Wake County Superior Court to sort out the issue. There are 151 death row inmates in North Carolina. A series of lawsuits, including this one, have blocked executions since 2006.